Ministry & Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities: 2010/11 Annual Report

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

18 October 2011
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister and Department of Women and Children and People with Disabilities (the Department) briefed the Committee on its 2010 Annual Report. Although an unqualified audit report was given, there were several serious matters of emphasis raised. The Minister and Director General explained that this Department had not had a budget when it first was started, and was heavily reliant on the Office of the Presidency, under whom it had then fallen. The Department lacked managers in key senior positions, and this lack of capacity led to several problems, including the fact that no strategic plans were drawn, that sufficient financial controls were not in place, and the various audit findings. However, a new structure was then approved, positions were advertised, and subsequently re-advertised as the structure underwent further changes, and the current Chief Executive Officer and Minister assumed office on 1 November 2010. The Department had overspent, with R3.729 million being recorded as unauthorised expenditure, but much of the over-expenditure was incurred in respect of travel and accommodation, including costs for officials and Ministers from the Presidency, and the issue was being discussed in an attempt to get refunds from the Presidency. The steps that had been taken to try to address the findings of the Auditor-General were outlined, and it was noted that an action plan had been drawn and distributed to all senior management staff, whilst letters of commitment on those issues had been sent to the Auditor-General. G on 5 October 2011 indicated measures put in place to address the issues on the emphasis of matter and other matters categories. The Department over-spent its budget and disclosed the amount of R3, 729 million as un-authorised expenditure. Since the Department had begun to operate independently of the Presidency, its financial capacity had been increased, and policies were in place and operative, to try to ensure greater compliance. The Department gave a brief report on the achievements under the various programmes for the 2010/11 year.

Members congratulated the Department on its Report, and on getting an unqualified audit, but raised several concerns, and stressed that the Department must attend to all audit concerns. They confirmed that many of the problems arose because the Department was set up without proper planning, and this had resulted in chaos prior to the appointment of the current Minister, with the Presidency having failed in its duty to incubate the Department. Several Members raised their concerns that the disability programme was not performing as it should, pointing out that money had been shifted away from disability programmes to other initiatives. A Member offered his assistance in recruiting properly qualified and skilled people with disabilities, if needed. Other questions concerned the late submission of the Annual Report, the audit queries, the reason why only 9 000 were to benefit from the Sanitary Dignity Campaign, further reports on the Women’s Empowerment Fund, the reason why certain candidates for posts were not appointed, initiatives for the youth and the relationship with the Commission on Gender Equality. The Minister noted that it was important that children, particularly in the Western Cape, should participate in national programmes, to increase their exposure to other people and cultures.

Meeting report

Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) 2010/11 Annual Report
Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Director General, Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities) presented the 2010/11 Annual Report of her Department(DWCPD or the Department.  The Department had received an unqualified opinion from the Auditor-General (AG), but there were some emphases of matters raised. The Department had already engaged with these and had drawn action plans to ensure that the issues raised would not be repeated in the following financial year. A commitment letter sent to the AG on 5 October 2011 indicated measures put in place to address the emphasis of matter and other matters categories.

She noted that the Department had over-spent its budget and the amount of R3,729 million was regarded as unauthorised expenditure. The Administration programme over-spent by R8,83 million, which was related to travel and accommodation expenditure, seconded staff, venues and facilities. The Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) branch had an over-expenditure of R387 000, as it had had insufficient budget for travel and accommodation to provide for the delegation attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women Conference, and seconded staff. The Children’s Rights and Responsibilities programme had overspent R167 000 on travel expenditure incurred by seconded officials, which was not included in the budget. The programme for Rights of People with Disabilities had a saving of R5,656 million.  

The amount of R6,629 million was disclosed as irregular expenditure, since savings realised under Capital Expenditure were used to defray current expenditure, without first obtaining National Treasury’s approval, although this was subsequently obtained.

It was noted that the Department had no strategic plan, and the information on the predetermined objectives was deficient in that there were no clear and logical links between objectives, indicators and targets. Indicators were not well defined and verifiable, nor were they time bound and measurable. The Department had since corrected those defects in the 2011/12 strategic plan. The deficiencies noted in the 2010/11 financial year happened because there was insufficient capacity in the Department to form a management team to look at the strategic plan, and the document that was produced did not comply with the policies and prescripts. At that time, the budget-matters and expenditure management had been done by the Office of the Presidency. Lack of capacity was also the reason for other problematic areas, such as overspending and misallocations of expenditure, payments to creditors that were not made within the specified 30-day period, the non-submission of reports to National Treasury, and the fact that unauthorised and irregular expenditure were not prevented. Since the Department had started operating independently from the Presidency, in May 2011, the finance support staff capacity had improved, and policies were in place to ensure compliance to regulations.

The Department had failed to comply with section 77 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Regulation 3.1 of National Treasury Regulations, as it had not had an Audit Committee. An Audit Committee was subsequently appointed, on 01 October 2011. The internal audit function was not in place during the financial year, as required by National Treasury Regulation 3.2.2. However, the interviews for the post of Director: Internal Audit were conducted on 06 October 2011, and the appointment would be finalised soon. The procurement function was not in place in the Department, which led to non-compliance of bidders regarding the submission of bid documents. However, since June 2011, supply chain management support staff had been appointed, as well as a Director: Supply Chain Management. The necessary supply chain management (SCM) policies had been finalised and were being implemented. The Human Resource Plan had not been submitted during the audit period, as was required by the Public Service Regulations, but this had since been corrected. Performance Agreements were also not submitted, as a result of internal transitional arrangements. Performance Agreements for Senior Management Service (SMS) members had been submitted for 2011/12 and pay points had been created to comply with Treasury Regulation 8.3.4.

Dr Mkhize noted that the
DWCPD did not have sufficient monitoring controls to ensure proper implementation of the overall process of planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting on performance against predetermined objectives, as well as to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The Department also did not have sufficient monitoring controls to ensure that funds were utilised in accordance with the approved budget, and for the purposes intended. However, this had been addressed by the appointment of staff at a management level to ensure compliance with applicable laws, and to ensure that monitoring controls were in place for sound financial management. The Risk Assessment had not been done, but this would be attended to when the Internal Audit component was finalised.

Expenditure Analyses for Financial Year 2010/11
Dr Mkhize outlined the analysis of expenditure for the 2010/11 financial year. The Administration Programme overspent, in relation to travel and subsistence, accommodation and air and road transport for seconded officials, who had not been provided for in the budget. Venues and Facilities for National Women’s Month had also been paid for under this Programme, and some of the expenditure for local and foreign travel would be recovered from the Presidency in 2011/12. The WEGE programme overspent the amount of R4 585 million under goods and services. The main over spending was related to the 2010 National Women’s Day and 16 Days of Activism Campaign. Other over-spending took place in relation to road, air travel and accommodation, both locally and internationally, and promotional materials, including transfer of funds to Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS), or the Women’s Month Campaign and Women’s Day celebrations held in the Eastern Cape.

Local travel cost R11,812 million and foreign travel cost R4,218 million. Some expenditure under local and foreign travel would be recovered from the Presidency before the end of the 2011/12 financial year. The DWCPD’s travel costs included rental of vehicles by staff on official trips, travel expenditure for the planning meetings, attendance at United Nations (UN) and other international bodies’ meetings, point to point transport for officials with disabilities, and accommodation for official trips. The amount of R7,004 million was spent on advertisements for the recruitment and marketing activities.

In this latter regard, Dr Mkhize explained that R554 224 was paid for the initial advertisement of vacancies in the DWCPD. Its structure was then amended by Cabinet, so new advertisements costing R144 386 were placed in the newspaper for all 23 Senior Management posts. An additional advertisement was later placed, at a cost of R48 236, to extend the application submission date from 07 to 21 January 2011.

The development of a comprehensive and integrated communication strategy for the Department cost R403 000, and promotional material for the Women’s day celebration in Eastern Cape amounted to R809 789. R1, 617 million was paid to GCIS for the Women’s day campaign. The amount of R1.6 million was spent on the Child Protection campaign. The amount of R391 200 was spent on other promotional materials for commemoration of the Day of the African Child and promotional material for the event of 16 July 2010, and other promotional material cost R250 000.

The total amount paid for Venues and Facilities was R4,487 million. One of the main activities paid for by the Department was the 2010 Women’s Conference, which had, however, been postponed.

The Department had paid tribute to women with disabilities who contributed in various sectors of society, and hosted National Machinery meetings for the three sectors of the Department. Dr Mkhize noted that the Administration Programme did not exist in 2010/11, as the Department was at that stage reliant on support from the Presidency’s Corporate Service unit.

The purpose of the WEGE was to
provide strategic leadership, guidance and programmes on the promotion of women’s rights, while its main objectives were to monitor and evaluate delivery of government on national, regional and international mandates for women’s empowerment and gender equality, and to plan, coordinate and advocate for programmes on women’s empowerment and gender equality. The WEGE developed and consulted on a draft National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality. It had developed a draft concept document on the proposed National Council for Gender Based Violence, including a review of the “365 days National Action Plan” for ending violence against women and girls. It compiled a draft strategy on rural women’s development, and initiated a process of engendering the New Growth Path and the Jobs Fund, and developed a draft concept document on the Sanitary Dignity Campaign.

The purpose of the Children’s Rights and Responsibility’s (CRR) programme was to promote, protect and advance the rights and dignity of all children, to enable them to develop to their full potential in an inclusive and equitable society. Its objectives were to promote human dignity and advance child survival, protection and development, and to coordinate, monitor, evaluate and advocate on children’s rights delivery. The entity commemorated the Day of the African Child on 1 June 2010, celebrated International Children’s Day, and also celebrated the National Children’s Day in November 2010, in partnership with North-West Province.

The purpose of the Rights of People with Disabilities programme was to ensure equalisation of opportunities for all people with disabilities. Its main objective was to protect and promote human dignity and equality of persons with disabilities. The other objectives were to create an enabling environment for empowerment, advancement and socio-economic development of persons with disabilities, and to prevent and eliminate all forms of unfair discrimination against persons with disabilities. The entity provided assistance to rape victims at Philadelphia Secondary School and provided support to a raped child with intellectual disability at Phelang Special School. The Department developed special schools’ audit questionnaires, and supported the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in establishing a Disability Forum.

The Chairperson asked if the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hon Lulu Xingwana, wanted to add any comment. She commended the Minister for volunteering on the SABC hotline, where money was raised to assist people in Somalia.

Hon Xingwana said she volunteered at the hotline because most people who were affected in Somalia were women and children.

Ms Xingwana noted that most of the concerns highlighted in the audit report were raised prior to her appointment as Minister. The Department did not have a budget in the past, and had to rely on the Presidency for its operations. There had been a shortage of managers in key senior positions and she had had to look at a new structure, which was approved in December 2010. All senior management positions were currently filled. She reiterated that the high costs of advertising were due to the structural changes. The traveling expenses included the travel of ministers and officials within the Presidency. She pointed out that the Department would be coordinating the distribution of sanitary towels as part of its sanitary dignity campaign. The Department was working very hard to address and rectify the concerns raised by the AG.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) was happy to see the progress in the Department, especially since the appointments of the new Minister and Director General. She said that the Department must ensure that it attended to all the concerns raised by the AG. She asked why the Department had not reached the 2% target for employment of people with disabilities, pointing out that it should be a role model in that regard.

Ms Tseke asked for the reasons behind the late submission of the Annual Report, noting that this had a direct impact on the work of the Committee.

Ms Tseke did not agree that there was any justification for late payment of service providers, and the fact that the Department then fell under the Presidency was not sufficient excuse.

Ms M Tlake (ANC) noted that the AG had emphasised awards made to suppliers without tax clearance certificates. She asked for more explanation regarding revenue management and noted that paysheets or payrolls were not signed by the Executive Authority. It was of concern when the Department did not follow rules and regulations of National Treasury.

Ms P Lebeya (IFP) thanked the Department for its report. She noted that she was encouraged to see that corrective measures were in place for issues raised by the AG.

Ms Lebeya was concerned that only 9 000 people would benefit from the Sanitary Dignity Campaign, and asked what the entity could do to improve on that.

Ms Lebeya noted that the Department had given an indication, in earlier reports, that a Women’s Empowerment Fund (WEF) would be set up. Nothing was contained in this report, and she asked about its progress.

Dr Mkhize noted that the WEF was outlined, in reports made to the Committee earlier in the year. The Department still needed to give a full presentation.

Ms D Robinson (DA) said that many people had been disappointed in this Department’s performance in the past, but she was glad to see signs of a change. It seemed that the Department had been created without proper planning, and this was evident in the chaos that was left for the current Minister to resolve. The Presidency was supposed to incubate and shepherd the entity, but she believed that it had let the Department down.

Ms Robinson asked what the achievements were of the Department in respect of disabled people, and people on the ground, noting that money intended to deal with disability had been re-allocated somewhere else. She wanted to know what measures the Department had in place to change areas where it had been dysfunctional, and asked what impact it would have for people on the ground.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) congratulated the Department in general, but indicated that his main area of concern related to disability, where he could not detect any substantial improvement. He understood the over expenditure, saying that the Department had been under-funded, but failed to understand the under-expenditure on various disability programmes, and claimed that there were certainly the right people, with the right qualifications and competency, who could fill the posts. He offered to help the Department recruit people with disabilities, if they needed assistance.

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) was happy with the report and thought that the Department was heading in the right direction. He wanted to know more about the lack of a management team that had led to incorrect strategic plans, and asked what the current position was. He also enquired about candidates who were interviewed and turned down.

The Minister emphasised that the Department was previously under the Presidency and most of its challenges were attributable to the lack of key members in senior positions. She had a letter from National Treasury indicating that the transfer of funds was approved, but the transfer was done late. The entity had been teaching and working with women in rural areas, especially the Eastern Cape, and did not choose to whom sanitary towels were distributed. Her intention was to meet with various stakeholders and come up with a uniform way of distribution.

The Minister agreed that the position had been very difficult for the previous Minister, because the Department was not given a budget allocation, and had struggled to get funding.

The Minister also hoped to see signs of change in the Western Cape, because the Western Cape women and children were absent from some national celebrations, and it was of concern to her to note that Western Cape children did not participate in some of the national programmes, as well as the fact that housing for disabled people was not prioritised in this province.

The Minister said it was ironic that Ms Robinson had questioned the travel expenditure, noting that she herself had benefited from flying business class and staying in expensive hotels. The figures for travel expenditure were not accurate, because not all costs were incurred by the Department. There were only eight officials from the Department who were paid for by the Department, whereas other payments related to other Ministers and officials from the Presidency, and this issue was still under discussion with the Presidency.

Dr Mkhize added that the traveling expenditure was incurred due to the sharing of services, facilities and human resources with the Presidency, and that was how the Department ended up paying for other Ministers’ and other officials’ traveling costs.

The Minister said that she had raised with Dr Mkhize the fact that nothing meaningful seemed to be happening in the Disability programmes, and she had asked Dr Mkhize to address the issue, which resulted in letters being addressed to some staff. She assured the Committee that those who under-performed would be called to account, and the Director General would monitor and evaluate performance.

Dr Mkhize confirmed that she had indeed discussed the challenges surrounding disability with the Minister, and she had acted within the processes of the law.

The Minister noted that the candidates who were rejected had been blacklisted, and the Minister was of the view that they would not be able to manage the finances of the Department if they could not manage their own finances.

The Minister confirmed that the target for employment of disabled people within the Department was approximately 4%. She was concerned that employment of disabled people, averaged out across all government departments, stood at only 0.6%.

The Minister explained that the Annual Report was submitted late because the Department had to send it to the AG for quality control purposes. A letter of apology was addressed to the Speaker of Parliament. The Minister would like to take this opportunity also to apologise directly to the Committee.

Dr Mkhize explained that the awards that were given to suppliers without tax clearance certificates arose in the 2009/10 financial year, and the position had since been corrected. The questions around revenue management arose when some officials were overpaid, and there were no systematic processes to recover the money, but the Department now did have the correct systems in place. The people who were suppose to certify the pay slips were still new in all units and did not fully understand the processes.

Dr Mkhize noted that the only people that were paid overtime were support staff, and not managers. Both she and the Minister had been appointed on 1 November 2010, and great progress had been made in normalising the Department. The majority of the senior posts had been filled, financial controls were in place and the entity was complying with all processes required by government.

The Minister indicated that she recently had had meetings with the Minister for Rural Development and the Minister for Energy on how women could be empowered through those entities. Both responded very positively and agreed to work out the necessary strategies and programmes for women empowerment in their departments. The Department would launch a facility in Durban during Disability Month, aimed at empowering people with disabilities with various skills. There were plans to work extensively with women in rural areas like the Eastern Cape.

Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) asked if the Department had established programmes for youth at risk.

Mr Kekane also wanted to hear more on the initiatives for the youth, since about 70% of people in South Africa were under the age of 30.

The Minister said that youth no longer fell directly under the Department but under the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). However, the Department still ran programmes for young women and youth with disabilities. The DWCPD was working with the Department of Economic Development regarding the Women’s Empowerment Fund, and the Minister of Economic Development promised that there would be funding available.

Ms P Lebenya (IFP) was hoping to see a reflection of the relationship between the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) and the Department in the Annual Report.

The Minister said that the Commission on Gender Equality was not a departmental entity, but budget was transferred to it, via the Department. The CGE claimed that it did not report to the Department but to Parliament, although its budget was allocated through the Department. Over- expenditure was mainly due to a lack of capacity in the past and people who were not part of the Department helped the entity with various functions. Proper procedures and mechanisms were not in place in the past but she did not foresee the same problems in future.

Ms D Robinson (DA) acknowledged that the Western Cape women and children might not be always participating in National programmes but said the province was working on various programmes, at a local level, looking at specific outcomes.

The Minister thanked Ms Robinson for explaining why children and women from the Western Cape at times did not partake in National programmes, but stressed that it was important for women and children to get exposure to different environments and people.

The Chairperson said that at another briefing she would like to hear more about the Gender Equality Bill. The Committee would support the Department in its requests for funding.

The meeting was adjourned


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